Thymomas and autoimmune conditions

People with thymoma are more likely to have an autoimmune condition. This is when the immune system fights healthy cells instead of infection and disease.

What is an autoimmune condition?

People with a thymoma are more likely to also have an autoimmune condition. The immune system protects the body from infection and disease. An autoimmune condition is when the immune system starts fighting normal, healthy cells in the body instead of fighting infection and disease.

The thymus helps keep the immune system working properly. This may help explain the link between autoimmune conditions and thymoma.

If you have an autoimmune condition and are diagnosed with thymus gland cancer, your cancer team will work with the doctors who help you manage it.

Thymomas are linked with different autoimmune conditions. These are some of the common ones.

Myasthenia gravis

The most common condition linked to thymoma is called myasthenia gravis. The main symptom is that muscles become tired and weak. About half of the people with a thymoma also have myasthenia gravis.

People diagnosed with myasthenia gravis will have a CT scan to look for any signs of thymoma developing.


People with hypoglobulinaemia (sometimes called Good’s syndrome) have very low levels of antibodies in the blood. The immune systems makes antibodies to find and destroy infections. If you do not have enough antibodies, you are more likely to get infections and take longer to recover from them.

Pure red cell aplasia

This condition stops the body making enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. If you do not have enough of them, you can become tired and sometimes breathless.